Only 5% of App Users Stick Around for One Month

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Image by Kate SERBIN

Swipe the screen of your smartphone or tablet, and you’ll probably see icons for several apps you’ve only used a few times. You might even notice icons for apps you only opened once after downloading them.

App developers continually struggle with customer retention, meaning some apps are largely forgotten almost immediately. Let’s take a look at some recent statistics, plus some likely reasons why so few users stick around to use apps on a long-term basis.

Most App Users Don’t Remain Loyal for Very Long

A recent study released by AppsFlyer indicates only four to five percent of app users keep depending on applications after a month. It also noted the user retention rate is only 10 to 12 percent after a mere week. This data is certainly enough to strike fear into the hearts of even the most excited and committed apps developers. But why do people lose interest so quickly? There are numerous probable causes.

1. Fierce Competition

The Apple Store alone boasts more than 2 million apps. In December 2016, Apple had its most successful month ever, and made $3 billion in app-related revenue. Considering the sheer volume of apps to buy, it’s no wonder the store is so profitable even once people move on to the latest, and perceived greatest, releases.

2. Lack a Defined Purpose

Apps tend to experience plummeting user retention rates if they don’t clearly demonstrate well-defined purposes. Users become interested in apps when they believe those products can perform at least one task more efficiently or otherwise better than could be accomplished through a desktop platform or other means.

3. Too Hard to Use

Many apps don’t include clear instructions about how to take advantage of features and capabilities. As a result, people often waste time randomly tapping their screens to access certain functions and only figure out how to use them via trial and error.

Maybe you’ve had a similar experience and wondered why you ever decided to download an app at all, since it was supposed to make things easier, not harder. By contrast, other kinds of software thrive because people can actually train you in how to use them.

4. Not Relevant Enough to Individual Users

What do Netflix and Amazon have in common? They both deliver customized suggestions about things you might like. Specifically, big data-driven algorithms crunch statistics and “learn” user preferences, then help steer people in the right direction as they choose films to watch or books to read.

When apps don’t do something similar with at least a moderate rate of success, people understandably wonder, “What’s in it for me?”

5. Not Stable Enough

It shouldn’t be hard to envision why users typically become so frustrated by unstable apps. When you download an app and get ready to use it, you’ve already gotten to the point of setting basic expectations about your experience. One of them is that the app will perform as advertised without crashing every other minute.

Apps that fail to the point of having to be constantly restarted probably won’t have favorable user retention statistics. That’s partially because giving feedback about app experiences is time consuming, but it’s something users are arguably more likely to do if they’re extremely frustrated and want to prevent others from making their same mistakes.

Although there are some benefits associated with negative reviews, such as getting insight about the most problematic issues associated with apps, poor feedback can cause an app to never gain the momentum it might deserve. Almost inevitably, an app that crashes a lot will become a target for app users who promise to delete the content and warn others to never download it.

Lessons for App Makers and Users

It should now be clear why most app users don’t remain faithful to the titles they choose. However, by looking at the list above, you could discover it’s easier to select apps that are worth using over long periods of time.

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Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a Pittsburgh-based tech writer contributing to MakeUseOf, The Gadget Flow and Smart Hustle. Follow her on Twitter to read her latest posts!

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